Brexit uncertainty prompts IMF to cut global growth forecasts again

Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:05am EDT
 
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By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global growth forecasts for the next two years on Tuesday, citing uncertainty over Britain's looming exit from the European Union.

The move included a nearly full percentage-point reduction in the UK's 2017 growth forecast.

Cutting its World Economic Outlook forecasts for the fifth time in 15 months, the IMF said that it now expects global GDP to grow at 3.1 percent in 2016 and at 3.4 percent in 2017 -- down 0.1 percentage point for each year from estimates issued in April.

The Fund said that despite recent improvements in Japan and Europe and a partial recovery in commodity prices, the UK's Brexit vote had created a "sizeable increase in uncertainty" that would take its toll on investment and market and consumer confidence.

On the day before Britain's June 23 EU referendum, the IMF was "prepared to upgrade our 2016-17 global growth projections slightly," IMF chief economist Maury Obstfeld said in a statement. "But Brexit has thrown a spanner in the works."

The IMF said that the impact will hit hardest in Britain itself, where the institution cut its 2016 growth forecast to 1.7 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from its April forecast. It cut the 2017 UK forecast more sharply, by 0.9 percentage points, to 1.3 percent.

The IMF lifted its euro zone forecast slightly for 2016, but cut its 2017 outlook by 0.2 percentage point to 1.4 percent for 2017.

It said last week that Brexit would have a "negligible" impact on the United States.   Continued...

 
Employees work at a production line inside a factory of Saic GM Wuling, in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, June 19, 2016. REUTERS/Norihiko Shirouzu